Country Profiles

Access to latest commentary on timber industries and economies of EU and VPA partner countries

VPA COUNTRY

Central African Rep.

VPA Status: FLEGT Implementing

VPA history of Indonesia
  • Between 2012 and 2016, a political and military crisis affected the Central African Republic and disrupted VPA implementation. Since democratic elections in 2016, stability has been returning. This has led to renewed VPA momentum and the resumption of implementation of the legality assurance system.
  • VPA implementation in the Central African Republic regained some momentum in 2015 and 2016 after democratic elections restored some stability.
  • The CAR government concluded an accord with 14 armed groups in February 2019, leading to a peace agreement and appointment of a new ‘inclusive government’ on 24 March 2019. However, the security situation remains precarious.
  • In February 2019, the 2017 joint EU-CAR Annual Report on VPA implementation was released. Among developments highlighted were:
    • sanctions for mandated independent observation of forest law enforcement;
    • further support for the WWF’s private sector VPA capacity-building project;
    • reinstatement of the Mobile Inspection Brigade, which controls forest, wildlife and fishing activity;
    • launch of a collaborative database within the VPA Permanent Technical Secretariat (STP) to monitor timber transport from the forest and tax payment; and
    • missions by FAO-EU FLEGT Programme consultants to support the STP in developing a VPA information website and timber monitoring database.
  • No further meetings of the Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) have taken place since the JIC last convened in 2018.
  • In recent years, the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme has been the main source of funding to support activities related to the implementation of the VPA. The EU Delegation is currently making preparations for releasing funds that had been earmarked for the VPA process, but were put on hold when the 2013-2014 Central African Republic conflict broke out.
  • Under Phase 3 of its FAO-EU FLEGT-funded project (which came to a close in October 2020), the Ministry of Forests developed, improved and rolled out a Central Database Management System. This system will underpin the upcoming development of the country’s Timber Legality Assurance System under the VPA. The VPA website is kept up to date with documents and resources that are in line with the requirements of the VPA on transparency and access to information.
  • Two other FAO-EU FLEGT projects came to a close in 2020: the FDD project on independent forest monitoring (IFM), which saw the launch of the first external IFM missions in CAR; and the project carried out by CIEDD to roll out the World Resources Institute’s Open Timber Portal, which forest companies can use to upload documentation that demonstrates legality.
  • WWF’s FAO-EU FLEGT project to build private sector capacity within the framework of the VPA is currently in its second phase and will come to a close in November 2021. A civil society project is also ongoing for the development of a community-based mechanism to monitor and enhance the use of forest revenue by communities that are adjacent to forest concessions.

Forest Resources

Forest area (2020) 22.3 mil. ha
Deforestation rate (2010-2020) -0.03 mil. ha/year
Planted area (2020) 2000 ha
Tree cover loss (2001-2020) 843,000 ha (-1.8 %)
Tree cover gain (2001-2012) 39,300 ha
FSC certified area (August 2021) 0 ha
PEFC certified area (August 2021) 0 ha
Double certified area (FSC & PEFC, August 2021) 0 ha

Source: FAO, Global Forest Watch, FSC, PEFC

  • The latest FAO FRA 2020 data shows that the Central African Republic’s forest area was 22.3 million hectares in 2020 from a total land area of 62.3 million. The area of primary forest continues to decline, measuring 1.99 million hectares in 2020, reduced from 2.75 million in 2010. Deforestation is estimated at 30,000 hectares per year in 2020 with a small increase in the area of reforestation (5,000 hectares).
  • Deforestation and forest degradation are mainly caused by expansion of subsistence and cash crop agriculture, which particularly affects gallery forests along waterways, and savannah wildfires largely induced by people. Another reason is wood-gathering around human settlements and mining (for gold, diamonds, and uranium).
  • Large areas of forest in the country comprise savannah type woodland and the area of forest suitable for commercial timber extraction is much smaller.
  • The closed semi-deciduous forests in the southwest of the country are among the richest in Africa, containing a high density of high-value timber species such as Terminalia superba (limba), Entandrophragma cylindricum (sapelli) and Triplochiton scleroxylon (ayous) and significant areas are still largely unexploited.

Industry

GDP (2020) 2,303.08 million USD
Population (2020) 4.83 million
Income group (2020) Low income
Ease of Doing Business (EDB) Rank (2020) 184 / 190
Global Competitiveness Index Rank (2019) – / 141
Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (maximum value in 2004 = 100) (2019)

Source: World Bank, World Economic Forum

Timber Industry Competitiveness

  • Since the mid-1990s, the Central African Republic has attempted to impose minimum requirements for processing of timber prior to export but with limited success owing to the challenges of encouraging investment in processing facilities.
  • According to national law, 70% of the log harvest should be processed in the country. However, the volume processed as a percentage of the total volume produced has fallen significantly, from approximately 49% in 2001 to less than 20% in 2018.
  • The country is either not rated at all or ranked very low on international competitiveness indices. In 2019, it was ranked 184th out of 190 countries on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index. Historically most exports of logs and sawnwood have been through Douala (Cameroon).
  • In 2018, FAO and CIFOR published a joint report on the state of the forest sector in Central African Republic in 2016 which indicated there were 11 logging companies, with an average annual production of close to 400,000 m3 at that time. This study suggests sawnwood production of only 33,000 m3 in 2016. The SEFCA company does more than half the processing.
  • ATIBT suggests there are around 10 larger companies operating in 2020.
  • According to the FAO-CIFOR study, close to 30 species are processed in the country, but ATIBT have stated that the key exported species are Sapelli (Entandrophragma cylindricum), Ayous (Triplochiton scleroxylon), Iroko (Milicia excelsa & M. regia), Mukulungu (Autranella congolensis), Doussié (Afzelia spp.), and Tali (Erythrophleum spp.)

Trade Overview

  • According to the ITTO Biennial Review, Central African Republic log production was 554,000 m3 in 2020, a decline from 727,000 m3 in 2018, 627,000 m3 in 2017 and from 548,000 m3 in 2014. Log exports, which were only 114,000 m3 in 2014, had risen to 418,000 m3 in 2018. In 2020 log exports amounted to 196,000 m3.
  • Sawnwood production was estimated by ITTO to be only 41,000 m3 in 2020, compared to 50,000 m3 in 2018 and 33,000 m3 in 2016 (estimated by FAO/CIFOR). Sawnwood exports were estimated by ITTO at only 13,800 in 2020, up from 12,000 m3 in 2018, down from 15,000 m3 the previous year.
  • There is negligible plywood and veneer production in CAR.

Imports

  •  The Central African Republic imported timber products with a total value of only US$3.3 million in 2020, a slight rise from US$2.3 million the previous year.
  • Imports comprise mainly small volumes of paper products from Italy and Cote d’Ivoire.
  • Small amounts of furniture and other secondary processed wood products are imported from China.
Central African Republic’s imports by product group (data source: STIX)
Central African Republic’s leading import product flows (data source: STIX)

Exports

  • Export value of timber products from the Central African Republic increased to US$69.2 million in 2020 from US$52.7 million in 2018 driven mainly by rising trade in logs destined for China.
  • In 2020, China accounted for almost 80% of all timber export value from the Central African Republic, up from around 37% in 2016.
  • The EU accounted for around 11% of timber product export value from the Central African Republic in 2020, down from around 21% in 2019 and around 29% in 2015.
Central African Republic’s exports by product group (data source: STIX)

EU+UK Imports from Central African Republic

  • Total EU27+UK imports of timber and timber products from CAR in 2020 was valued at US$7.7 million.
  • EU27+UK log imports from CAR in 2020 amounted to US$6.2 million, falling from US$12 million in 2018.
  • Imports of CAR logs into all three leading EU destinations – France, Portugal and Belgium – increased in 2018 but declined in 2019 and 2020.
  • Total EU27+UK imports of sawnwood from CAR were valued at US$1.1 million in 2020, down from US$4.1 million in 2016.
EU+UK imports from Central African Republic by product group
(data source
: Eurostat COMEXT)
EU+UK imports from Central African Republic by destination
(data source
: Eurostat COMEXT)

Data Sources and Issues

Due to lack of regular data on timber product exports from Central African Republic, the statistics shown in this IMM report draw on import data from major timber trading partners, mainly in the EU, Asia and America. While these countries include many of the Central African Republic’s most significant trade partners, there are data gaps, notably relating to trade flows with neighbouring countries in Africa. Data is derived from IMM analysis of UN COMTRADE, Eurostat COMEXT, and national statistics from Business Trade Statistics Ltd. The data is also made available at www.stix.global and www.immstats.org